Platonic Fridge

You get so wise
talking to the plant
about the grilled cheese sandwich
you are making
in the middle of the night
all about guilt.
Cheese.
You think your thoughts
are mostly stolen
animal products too.
The moon in the window
is also a thief.
All light feels stolen,
if light is property
which seems a sacred idea
about shoplifting
the divine.
The moon in the night
like a yearbook in your mind
quietly assaults you.
You turn the sandwich
as a lover turns
a lover in a drawing
you can’t stop tasting
before you actually taste
yourself forbidding yourself.
Before you are the moon,
its shoddy accounting
and what it did with light
for billions of years
that it can’t explain
or won’t in this court
because it doesn’t even understand
it is a dark body
with accountability
to other darkness.

Beloved

Energy in this room. Furnishings in this room. Particles of life. Photons. Papers with ideograms which are not always loyal. A television’s most sincere dreams. I cherish the t.v’s dreams like those of a bride. I feel a twinge when I must turn it off. It is like leaving a lover when I must leave the room. I close the door behind me, to let the television know that I am its protector. When I find dust on the forehead of the television, I could weep. But it lets me know how faithful my television is. When I see a television thrown out, lying with the garbage in a street, I feel an urge to rescue it. Even if it is dead, it deserves better. How could you not offer a decent burial to one of your closest living relations. What sort of animal lives in that house?

Keep

Keep your white hair, she says. I go around and walk around an artificial lake that has become real. With the snow and the geese, it has become real. There is no place not to be real. That is the unavoidable thing. Keep, she says, in a place where she is disappearing. She wants me to be old with her, to walk on the mountain that is disappearing. The mountain of us. I hear the single word Keep, and all through the night like my reflection in the dark plate glass of the artificial lake. A radio has been left on, somewhere in the night.  Which is no longer a thing. Now it is a piece of paper I could hand to you. The lake, the geese that no one wants, that no one will bury, the ice they walked on, verifying existence. Their nests, your nests. It lives inside a piece of paper. As you will, soon enough.

Elegy

The sound the drain makes
After it has swallowed its full share
When I spoke his name today
Walking under trees of a street
Enjoying being alone in the rain
There was a slow hiccuping of the darkness
All around me, possibly from the earth
Not that he didn’t have a halo
Of car crashes and beautiful daughters
Whatever could distract him
Begrudge him nothing of that now
Now nothing begrudge him
Nothing he did in the ghost of cups
Even his unflattering death
No more crime to the queer gods
Than wearing an ill-fitting suit
One moment in their sight

Ours

Think about the shadow of work
All our lives we were there
Just as in love
We were under someone’s shadow
Long dark scroll of hair
On the nape of a neck
When we visited the ocean we stared at it
From long rows of metal chairs
We were an army of the paralyzed
It was okay to be obliterated by wincing blue light
Is the hawk passive as it flies
Looking for blood to become hunger
Our dreams wonder to themselves
While we are asleep and paralyzed
In between asking themselves
If we are the real ones
If we are the real thieves

 

The Green Park

The space from zero to one is finite.
This is one unit. The space from zero to one
is infinite. There are these irrational intrusions,
something like thoughts, that go on forever.
The space from zero to one is no different
than any other space termed span.
The truth is that space is always opening like a hand.
We have only this conceit of span. If you look at a landscape
enough years, much longer than you possibly can,
you would see that green park elongating and rarefying
to a thing we’d sooner call a space than span.
Just think. All of that emptiness was already in it,
when you saw a child get on one of those swings
and pump her legs until she was nothing but joy
surrounded by stars and a funny darkness so loose
it could be anything or anyone at all.

Thoughts on Composition

We walk around not knowing our composition. The funny part is that even if we saw our own intellectual and spiritual composition written out on paper, we would most likely not recognize it as our own constitution. We would most likely be oblivious that we were looking at our “formula” conveniently written down on paper, in case some industrious (and technologically advanced) scientist wanted to use this recipe to produce a good approximation of our being. This sci-fi scenario presumes that in the future there is such a thing as a “manufacturing psychiatrist,” a mind-maker who can produce (after the manner of Watson with his infamous boast) any sort of human being, once the constitutive elements are known. This is, of course, patently ridiculous. I hope it is clear that I am using a far-fetched metaphor to get at an everyday truth. To give an example: if I told you I was feeling weak and I lay down on some  linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, wood flour, pigments and ground limestone, you might wonder in what strange place I was. Was I in an art gallery or a museum? Was this strange mixture of substances a work of contemporary conceptualism, an artist attempting to reground us in the earth by placing it in a privileged space where seeing is deemed paramount? Well, no. That is actually just the formula for producing linoleum. So if I lay on those substances, I could have just been sinking to my own kitchen floor. The trick is in the way the substances are fused. Literature fuses. I think many use literature in an attempt to discover their own formulary constitution, and possibly, to change it. The gedankenexperiments which occur in the pages of a book, virtual or otherwise, are a safe place in which to assay our surprisingly ufamiliar composition and discover the strange, almost chemical alliances which form the compounds of our personality. After all, how often will a great (and often a disturbing) book make us say, “I didn’t realize _____ was in me, until I read that.”

Gorillas

A frustrated man in an unhappy marriage traded in his wife for a gorilla.

It was a male gorilla, but the man put it in a truly vavoom pink polka dot dress, put makeup on its face, and placed a smart, pink toque on its head. The he took the gorilla out, everywhere, just as he had been accustomed to do with his wife.

The man was able to take the lead when they walked together and even steer this “ship of two,” and the gorilla didn’t run away from him in the stores to look at clothing or jewelry or other shiny things such as would formerly happen with his wife.

The man was now able to speak first. He was able to speak as much as he wanted also. But he didn’t know how to speak first and the gorilla couldn’t speak, so they went everywhere together in total silence.

Other men in shopping malls would see the man and his gorilla walking together, the man’s right arm wrapped around the hairy, left arm of his companion in a somewhat forceful, proprietary manner, and use this example, this object lesson, to demean the wives or girlfriends walking beside them.

“She might not be much to look at,” they would say while staring directly into their partners’ faces with the searchlight of an unstated accusation, “but just look at how well he’s got her trained.”

And then the wives or girlfriends would look at the sarcastic, smug expressions on the faces of their husbands or boyfriends and immediately think about replacing them with gorillas.

Heberto

There is a plant in that front room which some would call a living room. But I don’t do much living in there. It’s kept dark during the day. I have hung heavy blankets over the curtains. This darkness is in case I decide to watch movies or television. But I have largely lost interest in that. There is a plant in there in a large plastic pot by the shrouded bay window at the front of the room, which is the house’s front which faces the street. It is an areca palm, which I have sentenced to eternal darkness like some villain in a Superman movie. It was once tall and flourishing. When I was in my last relationship all those years ago, I lived in a large apartment complex of many buildings. It was pretty landscaping. There were rolling hills. Only infrequently would terrifying things happen there. I remember an escaped convict with a gun. I remember a hurricane. There was an apple orchard behind us. A gym was included in the deal. It was right across the street from my building’s parking lot. I’d take my old boombox over there and exercise at three in the morning when no one else was around. I liked looking at the exercise equipment when no one was using it. I could see them in my mind’s eye on display in museums of the future as curious relics. There was also a community swimming pool in summer where I would go to lie in that one ridiculously floral chaise that hid under the shadows of a tree whose large trunk was just outside the pool’s fence. I’d lie there and read Nabokov in the shadows. Sometimes I’d study people. I’d wonder.  But I was a different person then. I’m much more about darkness now. The areca palm is still alive. It is tortured, but it began dying long before I darkened this room. There is still a central shoot of green coming up with new leaves, still wrapped up, like an unopened umbrella, that seems to survive only on the light that glows within those dark curtains and their coverings. Can you take nourishment from the light that lives inside another? I think you can. Nourishment moves in strange, mysterious ways. Am I somehow nourishing you right now, or will you immediately spit these words out? Sorry. The curtains covered by heavy blankets look like Rothko paintings when it is sunny outside. But even darker. The light seems to nest in the curtains and does not really penetrate into the room, but a little gets through. So I water this plant for no real reason. It’s like religion. It’s kindness with no real explanation behind it. But it is alive. A little bit. It’s behind the big screen t.v. that looks more like a Rauschenberg glossy black painting than a Rothko. It’s quoting the same period, anyway. The same school of alcoholic painters. So the dark room has a weird consistency. It’s trapped in the middle of the last century. I fill a Garfield coffee mug from the seventies (is Garfield dead?) from my kitchen tap, and I walk into the dark room to water the palm that refuses to die. When I step into the room, it’s like walking into a dark painting, not looking at one, but entering one, where the possibility of form and the doubt of form are having a strange conversation. It’s like stumbling around in a movie theater when you come in late for a show, that weird excitement and fear that there might be a killer or a lover only a few inches away from your one and only body, the only one you will ever truly possess, as you look for a place to settle your adrenaline. I always think someone might stab me or kiss me in those moments. I do know I feel very alive then. I think about the pointlessness of what I’m doing, being life support for a largely dead plant. Maybe this is one of those romances with the past. We all have those. I can’t even get behind the television to prune back all the dead parts it still carries. There are weird little beads that form on it and then turn white or some off-color like white. The dead fronds fall behind the television set. I think of Beckett and his ideas about pointlessness and his clear love of the rituals of pointless existence. I feel a certain fondness towards the dead man. So maybe I am paying homage to Beckett by watering this dead plant. But it is a little alive. Just a little. I think I also like walking in the darkness.Walking into the darkness. Don’t underestimate the importance of the little thrills in your life.  I think I like that feeling of not knowing form which the dark room gives me. It’s like beginning a sentence. If you stop and examine the phenomenon, you will see the greatest thrill of a sentence (if you are the one speaking or writing it) is the moment before the sentence unfolds, when you feel the compression of form and energy that is bidding you to unfold it, to speak it. It’s like the chrysalis of a butterfly the moment before that final deshicence. The white cracked shell of yourself lies on the floor of your mind. The sentence is birthed, flies off. You are generative. Yes, I like walking into that dark room where form is negotiable. The word is nescience. I think nescience brings something good to our lives. Nescience can be almost erotic. I feel my body’s tiniest hairs hearkening to the darkness when I walk into that room. It’s the cat inside of me. It’s quite possible the dead plant will outlive me. But I know it will die immediately after I do. Because nobody will invest time into it who doesn’t know the plant’s backstory. I can’t write anyone on earth and ask him or her to save the largely dead plant. I know we are inextricably tied together in this pointless bond. But we all have people we carry like this too. We all carry some dying things on our backs. When I see someone who isn’t carrying anything like this on his or her back, I realize that person is either very lucky or very sad. It could really just go either way.